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PK 2095.K11E5 1915
Songs of Kabir /
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SONGS OF KABIR
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SONGS OF KABIR
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THE poet Kabir, a selection from
whose songs is here for the first
time offered to EngUsh readers, is one
of the most interesting personaUties
in the history of Indian mysticism.
Born in or near Benares, of Mohamme-
dan parents, and probably about the
year 1440, he became in early life a
disciple of the celebrated Hindu as-
cetic Ramananda. Ramananda had
brought to Northern India the reli-
gious revival which Ramanuja, the
great twelfth-century reformer of Brah-
manism, had initiated in the South.
This revival was in part a reaction
against the increasing formalism of the
orthodox cult, in part an assertion of
the demands of the heart as against
6 SONGS OF KABIR
the intense intellectuaUsm of the Ve-
danta philosophy, the exaggerated
monism which that philosophy pro-
claimed. It took in Ramanuja's
preaching the form of an ardent per-
sonal devotion to the God Vishnu, as
representing the personal aspect of the
Divine Nature: that mystical "reli-
gion of love" which everywhere makes
its appearance at a certain level of
spiritual culture, and which creeds and
philosophies are powerless to kill.
Though such a devotion is indige-
nous in Hinduism, and finds expression
in some of the oldest parts of the Bhaga-
vad Gita, there was in its mediaeval
revival a large element of syncretism.
Ramananda, through whom its spirit is
said to have reached Kabir, appears to
have been a man of wide religious cul-
ture, and full of missionary enthusiasm.
Living at the moment in which the
impassioned poetry and deep philoso-
phy of the great Persian mystics, Attar,
Sadi, Jalalu'ddin Ruml, and Hafiz,
were exercising a powerful influence
on the religious thought of India, he
dreamed of reconciling this intense
and personal Mohammedan mysticism
with the traditional theology of Brah-
manism. Some have regarded both
these great religious leaders as influ-
enced also by Christian thought and
life : but as this is a point upon which
competent authorities hold widely di-
vergent views, its discussion is not at-
tempted here. We may safely assert,
however, that in their teachings, two
— perhaps three — apparently antag-
onistic streams of intense spiritual
culture met, as Jewish and Hellenistic
thought met in the early Christian
Church : and it is one of the outstand-
ing characteristics of Kabir's genius
that he was able in his poems to fuse
them into one.
8 SONGS OF KABIR
A great religious reformer, the
founder of a sect to which nearly a
milKon northern Hindus still belong,
it is yet supremely as a mystical poet
that Kabir hves for us. His fate has
been that of many revealers of Reahty.
A hater of rehgious exclusivism, and
seeking above all things to initiate men
into the hberty of the children of God,
his followers have honoured his mem-
ory by re-erecting in a new place the
barriers which he laboured to cast
down. But his wonderful songs sur-
vive, the spontaneous expressions of
his vision and his love ; and it is by
these, not by the didactic teachings
associated with his name, that he makes
his immortal appeal to the heart. In
these poems a wide range of mystical
emotion is brought into play : from the
loftiest abstractions, the most other-
worldly passion for the Infinite, to the
most intimate and personal reaUza-
tion of God, expressed in homely
metaphors and reUgious symbols
drawn indifferently from Hindu and
Mohammedan beUef. It is impossible
to say of their author that he was
Brahman or Sufi, Vedantist or Vaish-
navite. He is, as he says himself,
"At once the child of Allah and of
Ram." That Supreme Spirit" Whom
he knew and adored, and to Whose joy-
ous friendship he sought to induct the
souls of other men, transcended whilst
He included all metaphysical cate-
gories, all credal definitions ; yet each
contributed something to the descrip-
tion of that Infinite and Simple Total-
ity Who revealed Himself, according
to their measure, to the faithful lovers
of all creeds.
Kabir's story is surrounded by con-
tradictory legends, on none of which
rehance can be placed. Some of these
emanate from a Hindu, some from a
10 SONGS OF KABIR
Mohammedan source, and claim him by
turns as a Sufi and a Brahman saint.
His name, however, is practically a
conclusive proof of Moslem ancestry :
and the most probable tale is that
which represents him as the actual
or adopted child of a Mohammedan
weaver of Benares, the city in which the
chief events of his life took place.
In fifteenth-century Benares the syn-
cretistic tendencies of Bhakti religion
had reached full development. Sufis
and Brahmans appear to have met in
disputation : the most spiritual mem-
bers of both creeds frequenting the
teachings of Ramananda, whose repu-
tation was then at its height. The
boy Kabir, in whom the religious pas-
sion was innate, saw in Ramananda
his destined teacher; but knew how
slight were the chances that a Hindu
guru would accept a Mohammedan as
disciple. He therefore hid upon the
steps of the river Ganges, where Rama-
nauda was accustomed to bathe ; with
the result that the master, coming
down to the water, trod upon his body
unexpectedly, and exclaimed in his
astonishment, "Ram! Ram!" — the
name of the incarnation under which he
worshipped God. Kabir then declared
that he had received the mantra of
initiation from Ramananda's lips, and
was by it admitted to discipleship. In
spite of the protests of orthodox Brah-
mans and Mohammedans, both equally
annoyed by this contempt of theologi-
cal landmarks, he persisted in his
claim; thus exhibiting in action that
very principle of religious synthesis
which Ramananda had sought to es-
tablish in thought. Ramananda ap-
pears to have accepted him, and
though Mohammedan legends speak
of the famous Sufi Pir, Takki of Jhani,
as Kabir's master in later hfe, the
12 SONGS OF KABIR
Hindu saint is the only human teacher
to whom in his songs he acknowledges
The little that we know of Kabir's
life contradicts many current ideas
concerning the Oriental mystic. Of
the stages of discipline through which
he passed, the manner in which his
spiritual genius developed, we are com-
pletely ignorant. He seems to have
remained for years the disciple of
Ramananda, joining in the theological
and philosophical arguments which his
master held with all the great Mullahs
and Brahmans of his day; and to
this source we may perhaps trace his
acquaintance with the terms of Hindu
and Sufi philosophy. He may or may
not have submitted to the traditional
education of the Hindu or the Sufi
contemplative : it is clear, at any rate,
that he never adopted the life of the
professional ascetic, or retired from the
world in order to devote himself to
bodily mortifications and the exclu-
sive pursuit of the contemplative life.
Side by side with his interior life of
adoration, its artistic expression in
music and words — for he was a skilled
musician as well as a poet — he lived
the sane and diligent life of the Orien-
tal craftsman. All the legends agree
on this point : that Kablr was a weaver,
a simple and unlettered man, who
earned his hving at the loom. Like
Paul the tentmaker, Boehme the cob-
bler, Bunyan the tinker, Tersteegen
the ribbon-maker, he knew how to
combine vision and industry; the
work of his hands helped rather than
hindered the impassioned meditation
of his heart. Hating mere bodily aus-
terities, he was no ascetic, but a mar-
ried man, the father of a family — a
circumstance which Hindu legends of
the monastic type vainly attempt to
14 SONGS OF KABIR
conceal or explain — and it was from
out of the heart of the common life
that he sang his rapturous lyrics of
divine love. Here his works corrobo-
rate the traditional story of his Ufe.
Again and again he extols the hfe of
home, the value and reality of diurnal
existence, with its opportunities for
love and renunciation ; pouring con-
tempt upon the professional sanctity
of the Yogi, who "has a great beard,
and matted locks, and looks hke a
goat," and on all who think it neces-
sary to flee a world pervaded by love,
joy, and beauty — the proper theatre
of man's quest — in order to find that
One ReaUty Who has "spread His form
of love throughout all the world," ^
It does not need much experience of
ascetic literature to recognize the bold-
ness and originality of this attitude in
such a time and place. From the
1 Cf . Poems Nos. XXI, XL, XLIII, LXVI, LXXVI.
point of view of orthodox sanctity,
whether Hindu or Mohammedan, Ka-
bir was plainly a heretic ; and his frank
disUke of all institutional reUgion, all
external observance — which was as
thorough and as intense as that of the
Quakers themselves — completed, so
far as ecclesiastical opinion was con-
cerned, his reputation as a dangerous
man. The " simple union " with Divine
Reahty which he perpetually extolled,
as ahke the duty and the joy of every
soul, was independent both of ritual
and of bodily austerities; the God
whom he proclaimed was "neither in
Kaaba nor in Kailash." Those who
sought Him needed not to go far ; for
He awaited discovery everywhere, more
accessible to "the washerwoman and
the carpenter" than to the self-right-
eous holy man.^ Therefore the whole
apparatus of piety, Hindu and Moslem
1 Poems I, II, XLI.
16 SONGS OF KABIR
alike — the temple and mosque, idol
and holy water, scriptures and priests
— were denounced by this inconven-
iently clear-sighted poet as mere sub-
stitutes for reality ; dead things inter-
vening between the soul and its love — ■
The images are all lifeless, they cannot speak :
I know, for I have cried aloud to them.
The Purana and the Koran are mere words :
lifting up the curtain, I have seen.*
This sort of thing cannot be tolerated
by any organized church; and it is
not surprising that Kabir, having his
head-quarters in Benares, the very
centre of priestly influence, was sub-
jected to considerable persecution. The
well-known legend of the beautiful
courtesan sent by the Brahmans to
tempt his virtue, and converted, Uke
the Magdalen, by her sudden encounter
with the initiate of a higher love, pre-
serves the memory of the fear and dis-
1 Poems XLII, LXV, LXVII.
like with which he was regarded by the
ecclesiastical powers. Once at least,
after the performance of a supposed
miracle of healing, he was brought
before the Emperor Sikandar Lodi,
and charged with claiming the posses-
sion of divine powers. But Sikandar
Lodi, a ruler of considerable culture,
was tolerant of the eccentricities of
saintly persons belonging to his own
faith. Kabir, being of Mohammedan
birth, was outside the authority of the
Brahmans, and technically classed with
the Sufis, to whom great theological
latitude was allowed. Therefore,
though he was banished in the in-
terests of peace from Benares, his life
was spared. This seems to have
happened in 1495, when he was nearly
sixty years of age ; it is the last event
in his career of which we have definite
knowledge. Thenceforth he appears
to have moved about amongst various
18 SONGS OF KABIR
cities of northern India, the centre of
a group of discipfes; continuing in
exile that hfe of apostle and poet of
love to which, as he declares in one of
his songs, he was destined "from the
beginning of time." In 1518, an old
man, broken in health, and with hands
so feeble that he could no longer make
the music which he loved, he died at
Maghar near Gorakhpur.
A beautiful legend tells us that after
his death his Mohammedan and Hindu
disciples disputed the possession of
his body; which the Mohammedans
wished to bury, the Hindus to burn.
As they argued together, Kabir ap-
peared before them, and told them to
lift the shroud and look at that which
lay beneath. They did so, and found
in the place of the corpse a heap of
flowers ; half of which were buried by
the Mohammedans at Maghar, and
half carried by the Hindus to the holy
city of Benares to be burned — fitting
conclusion to a life which had made
fragrant the most beautiful doctrines
of two great creeds.
The poetry of mysticism might be
defined on the one hand as a tempera-
mental reaction to the vision of Reality :
on the ofher, as a form of prophecy.
As it is the special vocation of the mys-
tical consciousness to mediate between
two orders, going out in loving adora-
tion towards God and coming home to
tell the secrets of Eternity to other
men ; so the artistic self-expression of
this consciousness has also a double
character. It is love-poetry, but love-
poetry which is often written with a
Kabir's songs are of this kind : out-
births at once of rapture and of charity.
Written in the popular Hindi, not in
20 SONGS OF KABIR
the literary tongue, they were deliber-
ately addressed — like the vernacular
poetry of Jacopone da Todi and
Richard RoUe — to the people rather
than to the professionally religious class ;
and all must be struck by the constant .
employment in them of imagery drawn
from the common life, the universal
experience. It is by the simplest meta-
phors, by constant appeals to needs,
passions, relations which all men under-
stand — the bridegroom and bride, the
guru and disciple, the pilgrim, the
farmer, the migrant bird — that he
drives home his intense conviction of
the reality of the soul's intercourse
with the Transcendent. There are in
his universe no fences between the
"natural" and "supernatural" worlds ;
everything is a part of the creative
Play of God, and therefore — even in
its humblest details — capable of re-
vealing the Player's mind.
This willing acceptance of the here-
and-now as a means of representing
supernal realities is a trait common to
the greatest mystics. For them, when
they have achieved at last the true
theopathetic state, all aspects of the
universe possess equal authority as
sacramental declarations of the
Presence of God ; and their fearless
employment of homely and physical
symbols — often startUng and even
revolting to the unaccustomed taste
— is in direct proportion to the exalta-
tion of their spiritual life. The works
of the great Sufis, and amongst the
Christians of Jacopone da Todi, Ruys-
broeck, Boehme, abound in illustra-
tions of this law. Therefore we must
not be surprised to find in Kabir's
songs — his desperate attempts to com-
municate his ecstasy and persuade
other men to share it — a constant
juxtaposition of concrete and meta-
22 SONGS OF KABIR
physical language; swift alternations
between the most intensely anthropo-
morphic, the most subtly philosophical,
ways of apprehending man's commun-
ion with the Divine. The need for this
alternation, and its entire naturalness
for the mind which employs it, is rooted
in his concept, or vision, of the Nature
of God ; and unless we make some at-
tempt to grasp this, we shall not go far
in our understanding of his poems.
Kabir belongs to that small group of
supreme mystics — amongst whom St.
Augustine, Ruysbroeck, and the Sufi
poet Jalalu'ddin Rumi are perhaps the
chief — who have achieved that which
we might call the synthetic vision of
God. These have resolved the per-
petual opposition between the personal
and impersonal, the transcendent and
immanent, static and dynamic aspects
of the Divine Nature; between the
Absolute of philosophy and the "sure
true Friend" of devotional religion.
They have done this, not by taking
these apparently incompatible concepts
one after the other ; but by ascending
to a height of spiritual intuition at
which they are, as Ruysbroeck said,
"melted and merged in the Unity,"
and perceived as the completing oppo-
sites of a perfect Whole. This pro-
ceeding entails for them — and both
Kabir and Ruysbroeck expressly ac-
knowledge it — a universe of three
orders : Becoming, Being, and that
which is "More than Being," i.e., God.^
God is here felt to be not the final
abstraction, but the one actuality.
He inspires, supports, indeed inhabits,
both the durational, conditioned, finite
world of Becoming and the uncon-
ditioned, non-successional, infinite
world of Being ; yet utterly transcends
them both. He is the omnipresent
1 Nos. VII and XLIX.
24 SONGS OF KABIR
Reality, the "All-pervading" within
Whom " the worlds are being told like
beads." In His personal aspect He
is the "beloved Fakir," teaching and
companioning each soul. Considered
as Immanent Spirit, He is "the Mind
within the mind." But all these are at
best partial aspects of His nature,
mutually corrective : as the Persons in
the Christian doctrine of the Trinity
— to which this theological diagram
bears a striking resemblance — repre-
sent difiFerent and compensating experi-
ences of the Divine Unity within which
they are resumed. As Ruysbroeck
discerned a plane of reality upon which
"we can speak no more of Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, but only of One Being,
the very substance of the Divine Per-
sons"; so Kabir says that "beyond
both the limited and the limitless is
He, the Pure Being." ^
' No. VII.
Brahma, then, is the Ineffable Fact
compared with which "the distinction
of the Conditioned from the Uncondi-
tioned is but a word": at once the
utterly transcendent One of Absolutist
philosophy, and the personal Lover
of the individual soul — "common to
all and special to each," as one Chris-
tian mystic has it. The need felt by
Kablr for both these ways of describing
Reality is a proof of the richness and
balance of his spiritual experience;
which neither cosmic nor anthropo-
morphic symbols, taken alone, could
express. More absolute than the Ab-
solute, more personal than the human
mind, Brahma therefore exceeds whilst
He includes all the concepts of phi-
losophy, all the passionate intuitions
of the heart. He is the Great Affirma-
tion, the font of energy, the source of
Ufe and love, the unique satisfaction
of desire. His creative word is the Om
26 SONGS OF KABIR
or "Everlasting Yea." The negative
philosophy which strips from the Di-
vine Nature all Its attributes and —
defining Him only by that which He is
not — reduces Him to an "Empti-
ness," is abhorrent to this most vital
of poets. Brahma, he says, "may
never be found in abstractions." He
is the One Love who pervades the
world, discerned in His fullness only
by the eyes of love; and those who
know Him thus share, though they
may never tell, the joyous and inef-
fable secret of the universe.^
Now Kabir, achieving this synthesis
between the personal and cosmic as-
pects of the Divine Nature, eludes the
three great dangers which threaten
First, he escapes the excessive emo-
tionaUsm, the tendency to an ex-
clusively anthropomorphic devotion,
iNos. VII, XXVI, LXXVI. XC.
which, results from an unrestricted cult
of Divine Personality, especially under
an incarnational form; seen in India
in the exaggerations of Krishna wor-
ship, in Europe in the sentimental
extravagances of certain Christian
Next, he is protected from the soul-
destroying conclusions of pure monism,
inevitable if its logical implications are
pressed home : that is, the identity
of substance between God and the soul,
with its corollary of the total absorp-
tion of that soul in the Being of God
as the goal of the spiritual hfe. For
the thorough-going monist the soul,
in so far as it is real, is substantially
identical with God; and the true
object of existence is the making patent
of this latent identity, the realization
which finds expression in the Vedantist
formula "That art thou." But Kabir
says that Brahma and the creature are
28 SONGS OF KABIR
"ever distinct, yet ever united" ; that
the wise man knows the spiritual as
well as the material world to "be no
more than His footstool." ^ The soul's
union with Him is a love union, a mut-
ual inhabitation ; that essentially dual-
istie relation which all mystical religion
expresses, not a self-mergence which
leaves no place for personality. This
eternal distinction, the mysterious
union-in-separateness of God and the
soul, is a necessary doctrine of all
sane mysticism; for no scheme which
fails to find a place for it can represent
more than a fragment of that soul's
intercourse with the spiritual world.
Its aflSrmation was one of the distin-
guishing features of the Vaishnavite
reformation preached by Ramanuja;
the principle of which descended
through Ramananda to Kabir.
Last, the warmly human and direct
1 Nos. VII and IX.
apprehension of God as the supreme
Object of love, the soul's comrade,
teacher, and bridegroom, which is so
passionately and frequently expressed
in Kablr's poems, balances and controls
those abstract tendencies which are in-
herent in the metaphysical side of his
vision of Reality : and prevents it from
degenerating into that sterile worship
of intellectual formulae which became
the curse of the Vedantist school. For
the mere intellectualist, as for the mere
pietist, he has little approbation.^ Love
is throughout his "absolute sole Lord" :
the unique source of the more abundant
hfe which he enjoys, and the common
factor which unites the finite and infi-
nite worlds. All is soaked in love :
that love which he described in al-
most Johannine language as the
"Form of God." The whole of crea-
tion is the Play of the Eternal Lover ;
1 Cf. especially Nos. LIX, LXVII, LXXV, XC, XCI.
30 SONGS OF KABIR
the living, changing, growing expres-
sion of Brahma's love and joy. As
these twin passions preside over the
generation of human life, so "beyond
the mists of pleasure and pain," Kabir
finds them governing the creative acts
of God. His manifestation is love;
His activity is joy. Creation springs
from one glad act of aflBrmation : the
Everlasting Yea, perpetually uttered
within the depths of the Divine Na-
ture.^ In accordance with this con-
cept of the universe as a Love-Game
which eternally goes forward, a progres-
sive manifestation of Brahma — one of
the many notions which he adopted
from the common stock of Hindu reli-
gious ideas, and illuminated by his
poetic genius — movement, rhythm,
perpetual change, forms an integral
part of Kablr's vision of Reality.
Though the Eternal and Absolute is
1 Nos. XVII, XXVI, LXXVI, LXXXII.
ever present to his consciousness, yet
his concept of the Divine Nature is
essentially dynamic. It is by the sym-
bols of motion that he most often tries
to convey it to us : as in his constant
reference to dancing, or the strangely
modern picture of that Eternal Swing
of the Universe which is "held by the
cords of love." ^
It is a marked characteristic of mysti-
cal Hterature that the great contempla-
tives, in their effort to convey to us the
nature of their communion with the
supersensuous, are inevitably driven to
employ some form of sensuous imagery :
coarse and inaccurate as they know
such imagery to be, even at the best.
Our normal human consciousness is so
completely committed to dependence
on the senses, that the fruits of intui-
tion itself are instinctively referred to
them. In that intuition it seems
1 No. XVI.
32 SONGS OF KABIR
to the mystics that all the dim crav-
ings and partial apprehensions of
sense find perfect fulfilment. Hence
their constant declaration that they see
the uncreated light, they hear the celes-
tial melody, they taste the sweetness
of the Lord, they know an ineffable
fragrance, they feel the very contact of
love. "Him verily seeing and fully
feeling. Him spiritually hearing and
Him delectably smelUng and sweetly
swallowing," as Julian of Norwich has
it. In those amongst them who de-
velop psycho-sensorial automatisms,
these parallels between sense and spirit
may present themselves to conscious-
ness in the form of hallucinations : as
the light seen by Suso, the music heard
by RoUe, the celestial perfumes which
filled St. Catherine of Siena's cell, the
physical wounds felt by St. Francis
and St. Teresa. These are excessive
dramatizations of the symbolism under
which the mystic tends instinctively
to represent his spiritual intuition to
the surface consciousness. Here, in
the special sense-perception which he
feels to be most expressive of Reality,
his peculiar idiosyncrasies come out.
Now Kabir, as we might expect in
one whose reactions to the spiritual
order were so wide and various, uses
by turn all the symbols of sense. He
tells us that he has "seen without
sight" the effulgence of Brahma, tasted
the divine nectar, felt the ecstatic con-
tact of Reahty, smelt the fragrance of
the heavenly flowers. But he was
essentially a poet and musician :
rhythm and harmony were to him the
garments of beauty and truth. Hence
in his lyrics he shows himself to be,
hke Richard RoUe, above all things a
musical mystic. Creation, he says
again and again, is full of music : it is
music. At the heart of the Universe
34 SONGS OF KABIR
"white music is blossoming" : love
weaves the melody, whilst renunciation
beats the time. It can be heard in the
home as well as in the heavens; dis-
cerned by the ears of common men as
well as by the trained senses of the
ascetic. Moreover, the body of every
man is a lyre on which Brahma, "the
source of all music," plays. Every-
where Kabir discerns the "Unstruck
Music of the Infinite" — that celestial
melody which the angel played to St.
Francis, that ghostly symphony which
filled the soul of RoUe with ecstatic joy .^
The one figure which he adopts from
the Hindu Pantheon and constantly
uses, is that of Krishna the Divine
Flute Player.^ He sees the supernal
music, too, in its visual embodiment, as
rhythmical movement: that mysteri-
ous dance of the universe before the
>Nos. XVII, XVIII, XXXIX, XLI, LIV. LXXVI,
LXXXIII, LXXXIX. XCVII. ^ Nos. L, LIII, LXVIII.
face of Brahma, which is at once an
act of worship, and an expression of the
infinite rapture of the Immanent God.^
Yet in this wide and rapturous vision
of the universe Kabir never loses touch
with diurnal existence, never forgets
the common hfe. His feet are firmly
planted upon earth ; his lofty and pas-
sionate apprehensions are perpetually
controlled by the activity of a sane and
vigorous intellect, by the alert common-
sense so often found in persons of real
mystical genius. The constant insist-
ence on simpUcity and directness, the
hatred of all abstractions and philoso-
phisings,^ the ruthless criticism of ex-
ternal religion : these are amongst his
most marked characteristics. God is
the Root whence all manifestations,
"material" and "spiritual," alike pro-
ceed; and God is the only need of
1 Nos. XXVI, XXXII, LXXVI.
2 Nos. LXXV, LXXVIII, LXXX, XC.
36 SONGS OF KABIR
man — "happiness shall be yours when
you come to the Root." ^ Hence to
those who keep their eye on the "one
thing needful," denominations, creeds,
ceremonies, the conclusions of philos-
ophy, the disciplines of asceticism, are
matters of comparative indifference.
They represent merely the different
angles from which the soul may ap-
proach that simple union with Brahma
which is its goal ; and are useful only
in so far as they contribute to this
consummation. So thorough-going is
Kabir's eclecticism, that he seems by
turns Vedantist and Vaishnavite, Pan-
theist and Transcendentalist, Brahman
and Sufi. In the effort to tell the
truth about that ineffable apprehension,
so vast and yet so near, which controls
his life, he seizes and twines together
— as he might have woven together
contrasting threads upon his loom —
1 No. LXXX.
symbols and ideas drawn from the most
violent and conflicting philosophies and
faiths. All are needed if he is ever to
suggest the character of that One
whom the Upanishad called "the Sun-
coloured Being who is beyond this
Darkness": as all the colours of the
spectrum are needed if we would dem-
onstrate the simple richness of white
light. In thus adapting traditional
materials to his own use, he follows a
method common amongst the mystics ;
who seldom exhibit any special love
for originality of form. They wiU pour
their wine into almost any vessel that
comes to hand : generally using by
preference — and hfting to new levels
of beauty and significance — the re-
hgious or philosophic formulae current
in their own day. Thus we find that
some of Kabir's finest poems have as
their subjects the commonplaces of
Hindu philosophy and rehgion: the
38 SONGS OF KABIR
Lila or Sport of God, the Ocean of
Bliss, the Bird of the Soul, Maya, the
Hundred-petalled Lotus, and the
"Formless Form." Many, again, are
soaked in Sufi imagery and feeling.
Others use as their material the ordi-
nary surroundings and incidents of
Indian life : the temple bells, the cere-
mony of the lamps, marriage, suttee,
pilgrimage, the characters of the
seasons; all felt by him in their
mystical aspect, as sacraments of the
soul's relation with Brahma. In many
of these a particularly beautiful and
intimate feeling for Nature is shown.^
In the collection of songs here trans-
lated, there will be found examples which
illustrate nearly every aspect of Kabir's
thought, and all the fluctuations of
the mystic's emotion : the ecstasy, the
despair, the still beatitude, the eager
seK-devotion, the flashes of wide illumi-
iNos. XV, XXIII, LXVII, LXXXVII, XCVIII.
nation, the moments of intimate love.
His wide and deep vision of the uni-
verse, the "Eternal Sport" of creation
(LXXXII), the worlds being "told like
beads" within the Being of God (XIV,
XVI, XVII, LXXVI), is here seen bal-
anced by his lovely and delicate sense of
intimate communion with the Divine
Friend, Lover, Teacher of the soul
(X, XI, XXIII, XXXV, LI, LXXXV,
LXXXVI, LXXXVIII, XCII, XCIII;
above all, the beautiful poem XXXIV).
As these apparently paradoxical views
of ReaHty are resolved in Brahma,
so all other opposites are reconciled
in Him : bondage and hberty, love and
renunciation, pleasure and pain (XVII,
XXV, XL, LXXXIX). Union with
Him is the one thing that matters to
the soul, its destiny and its need (LI,
LII, LIV, LXX, LXXIV, XCIII,
XCVI) ; and this union, this discovery
of God, is the simplest and most natural
40 SONGS OF KABIR
of all things if we would but grasp it
(XLI, XLVI, LVI, LXXII, LXXVI,
LXXVIII, XCVII). The union, how-
ever, is brought about by love, not by
knowledge or ceremonial observances
(XXXVIII, LIV, LV, LIX, XCI);
and the apprehension which that union
confers is ineffable — "neither This
nor That," as Ruysbroeck has it (IX,
XLVI, LXXVI). Real worship and
communion is in Spirit and in Truth
(XL, XLI, LVI, LXIII, LXV, LXX),
therefore idolatry is an insult to the
Divine Lover (XLII, LXIX) and the
devices of professional sanctity are
useless apart from charity and purity
of soul (LIV, LXV, LXVI). Since all
things, and especially the heart of
man, are God-inhabited, God-possessed
(XXVI, LVI, LXXVI, LXXXIX,
XCVII), He may best be found in the
here-and-now : in the normal, human,
bodily existence, the "mud" of material
life (III, IV, VI, XXI, XXXIX, XL,
XLIII, XLVIII, LXXII). "We can
reach the goal without crossing the
road" (LXXVI) — not the cloister but
the home is the proper theatre of man's
efforts : and if he cannot find God
there, he need not hope for success by
going farther afield. "In the home is
reality." There love and detachment,
bondage and freedom, joy and pain play
by turns upon the soul ; and it is from
their conflict that the Unstruck Music
of the Infinite proceeds. "Kabir says :
None but Brahma can evoke its
This version of Kabir's songs is
chiefly the work of Mr. Rabindranath
Tagore, the trend of whose mystical
genius makes him — as all who read
these poems will see — a peculiarly-
sympathetic interpreter of Kabir's
42 SONGS OF KABIR
vision and thought. It has been based
upon the printed Hindi text with
Bengah translation of Mr. Kshiti Mo-
han Sen ; who has gathered from many
sources — sometimes from books and
manuscripts, sometimes from the Ups
of wandering ascetics and minstrels —
a large collection of poems and hymns
to which Kabir's name is attached, and
carefully sifted the authentic songs
from the many spurious works now
attributed to him. These painstaking
labours alone have made the present
We have also had before us a manu-
script EngUsh translation of 116 songs
made by Mr. Ajit Kumar Chakravarty
from Mr. Kshiti Mohan Sen's text,
and a prose essay upon Kabir from
the same hand. From these we have
derived great assistance. A consider-
able number of readings from the
translation have been adopted by us;
whilst several of the facts mentioned
in the essay have been incorporated
into this introduction. Our most grate-
ful thanks are due to Mr. Ajit Kumar
Chakravarty for the extremely gener-
ous and unselfish manner in which he
has placed his work at our disposal.
SONGS OF KABIR
I. 13. mo ko kahdnd hunro vande
O SERVANT, where dost thou
Lo ! I am beside thee.
I am neither in temple nor in mosque :
I am neither in Xaaba nor in
Neither am I in rites and ceremonies,
nor in Yoga and renunciation.
If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt at
once see Me : thou shalt meet Me
in a moment of time.
Kabir says, "O Sadhu! God is the
breath of all breath."
I. 16. Santan jdt na pucho nirguniyan
IT is needless to ask of a saint the
caste to which he belongs ;
46 SONGS OF KABIR
For the priest, the warrior, the trades-
man, and all the thirty-six castes,
ahke are seeking for God.
It is but folly to ask what the caste of
a saint may be ;
The barber has sought God, the washer-
woman, and the carpenter ^-
Even Raidas was a seeker after God.
The Rishi Swapacha was a tanner by
Hindus and Moslems alike have
achieved that End, where remains
no mark of distinction.
I. 57. sddho hhdl, jivat hi karo dm
O FRIEND ! hope for Him whilst
you Uve, know whilst you live,
understand whilst you live : for
in life dehverance abides.
If your bonds be not broken whilst
living, what hope of deliverance
SONGS OF KABIR 47
It is but an empty dream, that the soul
shall have union with Him because
it has passed from the body :
If He is found now, He is found then.
If not, we do but go to dwell in the City
If you have union now, you shall have
Bathe in the truth, know the true Guru,
have faith in the true Name !
Kabir says : "It is the Spirit of the
quest which helps ; I am the slave
of this Spirit of the quest."
I. 58. bdgo nd jd re nd jd
DO not go to the garden of flowers !
O Friend ! go not there ;
In your body is the garden of flowers.
Take your seat on the thousand petals
of the lotus, and there gaze on the
48 SONGS OF KABIB
I. 63. avadhu mdyd taji na jdi
TELL me. Brother, how can I re-
nounce Maya ?
When I gave up the tying of ribbons,
still I tied my garment about me :
When I gave up tying my garment,
still I covered my body in its folds.
So, when I give up passion, I see that
anger remains ;
And when I renounce anger, greed is
with me still ;
And when greed is vanquished, pride
and vainglory remain ;
When the mind is detached and casts
Maya away, stillit chngs to the
Kabir says, "Listen to me, dear Sadhu !
the true path is rarely found."
SONGS OF KABIR 49
I. 83. candd jhalkai yahi ghat mdhin
THE moon shines in my body, but
my blind eyes cannot see it:
The moon is within me, and so is the
The unstruek drum of Eternity is
sounded within me; but my deaf
ears cannot hear it.
So long as man clamours for the I and
the Mine, his works are as naught :
When all love of the I and the Mine is
dead, then the work of the Lord
For work has no other aim than the
getting of knowledge :
When that comes, then work is put
The flower blooms for the fruit : when
the fruit comes, the flower withers.
50 SONGS OF KABIR
The musk is in the deer, but it seeks it
not within itself: it wanders in
quest of grass.
I. 85. Sddho, Brahm alakh lakhdyd
WHEN He Himself reveals Him-
seK, Brahma brings into mani-
festation That which can never be
As the seed is in the plant, as the shade
is in the tree, as the void is in the
sky, as infinite forms are in the
void — :
So from beyond the Infinite, the Infi-
nite comes ; and from the Infinite
the finite extends.
The creature is in Brahma, and Brahma
is in the creature : they are ever
distinct, yet ever united.
He Himself is the tree, the seed, and
SONGS OF KABIR 51
He Himself is the flower, the fruit, and
He Himself is the sun, the light, and
He Himself is Brahma, creature, and
He Himself is the manifold form, the
infinite space ;
He is the breath, the word, and the
He Himself is the hmit and the limit-
less : and beyond both the hmited
and the hmitless is He, the Pure
He is the Immanent Mind in Brahma
and in the creature.
The Supreme Soul is seen within the
The Point is seen within the Supreme
And within the Point, the reflection is
52 SONGS OF KABIR
Kabir is blest because he has this
supreme vision !
I. 101. is ghat antar hag baglce
WITHIN this earthen vessel are
bowers and groves, and within
it is the Creator :
Within this vessel are the seven oceans
and the unnumbered stars.
The touchstone and the jewel-ap-
praiser are within ;
And within this vessel the Eternal
soundeth, and the spring wells up.
Kabir says: "Listentome, my Friend !
My beloved Lord is within."
I. 104. aisd lo nahin taisd lo
OHOW may I ever express that
secret word ?
O how can I say He is not like this, and
He is like that .''
SONGS OF KABIR 53
If I say that He is within me, the uni-
verse is ashamed :
If I say that He is without me, it is
He makes the inner and the outer
worlds to be indivisibly one ;
The conscious and the unconscious,
both are His footstools.
He is neither manifest nor hidden, he
is neither revealed nor unre-
There are no words to tell that which
I. 121. iohi mori lagan lagdye re
TO Thee Thou hast drawn my love,
O Fakir !
I was sleeping in my own chamber, and
Thou didst awaken me ; striking
me with Thy voice, O Fakir !
I was drowning in the deeps of the
54 SONGS OF KABIR
ocean of this world, and Thou
didst save me : upholding me
with Thine arm, O Fakir !
Only one word and no second — and
Thou hast made me tear off all
my bonds, O Fakir !
Kabir says, "Thou hast united Thy
heart to my heart, O Fakir !"
I. 131. nis din khelat rahl sakhiyan
I PLAYED day and night with my
comrades, and now I am greatly
So high is my Lord's palace, my heart
trembles to mount its stairs : yet
I must not be shy, if I would enjoy
My heart must cleave to my Lover;
I must withdraw my veil, and
meet Him with all my body :
SONGS OF KABIR 55
Mine eyes must perform the ceremony
of the lamps of love.
Kabir says : "Listen to me, friend : he
understands who loves. If you
feel not love's longing for your
Beloved One, it is vain to adorn
your body, vain to put unguent
on your eyelids."
II. 24. hamsd, Tcaho purdtan vat
TELL me, O Swan, your ancient
From what land do you come, O Swan ?
to what shore will you fly ?
Where would you take your rest, O
Swan, and what do you seek ?
Even this morning, O Swan, awake,
arise, follow me !
There is a land where no doubt nor
sorrow have rule : where the terror
of Death is no more.
56 SONGS OF KABIR
There the woods of spring are a-bloom,
and the fragrant scent "He is Me"
is borne on the wind :
There the bee of the heart is deeply
immersed, and desires no other joy.
II. 37. anagadhiyd devd
OLORD Increate, who will serve
Every votary offers his worship to the
God of his own creation : each day
he receives service —
None seek Him, the Perfect : Brahma,
the Indivisible Lord.
They beheve in ten Avatars; but no
Avatar can be the Infinite Spirit,
for he suffers the results of his
The Supreme One must be other than
The Yogi, the Sanyasi, the Ascetics,
are disputing one with another :
SONGS OF KABIR 57
Kabir says, " O brother ! he who has
seen that radiance of love, he is
II. 56. dariyd hi lahar dariydo hai ji
THE river and its waves are one
surf: where is the diflference
between the river and its waves ?
When the wave rises, it is the water;
and when it falls, it is the same
water again. Tell me, Sir, where
is the distinction .''
Because it has been named as wave,
shall it no longer be considered as
Within the Supreme Brahma, the
worlds are being told like beads :
Look upon that rosary with the eyes of
58 SONGS OF KABIR
II. 57. janh khelat vasant riturdj
WHERE Spring, the lord of the
seasons, reigneth, there the
Unstruck Music sounds of itself,
There the streams of hght flow in all
Few are the men who can cross to that
There, where milUons of Krishnas stand
with hands folded.
Where milhons of Vishnus bow their
Where millions of Brahmas are reading
Where millions of Shivas are lost in
Where millions of Indras dwell in the sky.
Where the demi-gods and the munis
Where milhons of Saraswatis, Goddess
of Music, play on the vina —
SONGS OF KABIR 59
There is my Lord self -revealed : and
the scent of sandal and flowers
dwells in those deeps.
II. 59. janh cet acet khambh dou
BETWEEN the poles of the con-
scious and the unconscious, there
has the mind made a swing :
Thereon hang all beings and all worlds,
and that swing never ceases its
Milhons of beings are there : the sun
and the moon in their courses are
Millions of ages pass, and the swing
All swing ! the sky and the earth and
the air and the water; and the
Lord Himself taking form :
And the sight of this has made Kabir
60 SONGS OF KABIR
II. 61. grah candra tapan jot varat hai
THE light of the sun, the moon, and
the stars shines bright :
The melody of love swells forth, and
the rhythm of love's detachment
beats the time.
Day and night, the chorus of music fills
the heavens ; and Kabir says,
"My Beloved One gleams like the
lightning flash in the sky."
Do you know how the moments per-
form their adoration ?
Waving its row of lamps, the universe
sings in worship day and night.
There are the hidden banner and the
secret canopy :
There the sound of the unseen bells is
Kabir says: "There adoration never
ceases ; there the Lord of the Uni-
verse sitteth on His throne."
SONGS OF KABIR 61
The whole world does its works and
commits its errors : but few are
the lovers who know the Beloved.
The devout seeker is he who mingles
in his heart the double currents of
love and detachment, like the
mingling of the streams of Ganges
and Jumna ;
In his heart the sacred water flows day
and night ; and thus the round of
births and deaths is brought to an
Behold what wonderful rest is in the
Supreme Spirit ! and he enjoys it,
who makes himself meet for it.
Held by the cords of love, the swing of
the Ocean of Joy sways to and fro ;
and a mighty sound breaks forth
in song. .
See what a lotus blooms there without
water ! and Kabir says
"My heart's bee drinks its nectar."
62 SONGS OF KABIR
What a wonderful lotus it is, that
blooms at the heart of the spinning
wheel of the universe ! Only a
few pure souls know of its true
Music is all around it, and there the
heart partakes of the joy of the
Kabir says: "Dive thou into that
Ocean of sweetness : thus let all
errors of hfe and of death flee
Behold how the thirst of the five senses
is quenched there ! and the three
forms of misery are no more !
Kabir says: "It is the sport of the
Unattainable One : look within,
and behold how the moon-beams
of that Hidden One shine in you."
There falls the rhythmic beat of life
and death :
SONGS OF KABIR 63
Rapture wells forth, and all space is
radiant with hght.
There the Unstruck Music is sounded ;
it is the music of the love of the
There milhons of lamps of sun and of
moon are burning ;
There the drum beats, and the lover
swings in play.
There love-songs resound, and hght
rains in showers ; and the wor-
shipper is entranced in the taste
of the heavenly nectar.
Look upon hfe and death ; there is no
separation between them.
The right hand and the left hand are
one and the same.
Kabir says : "There the wise man is
speechless ; for this truth may never
be found in Vedas or in books."
I have had my Seat on the Self-poised
64 SONGS OF KABIR
I have drunk of the Cup of the In-
I have found the Key of the Mystery,
I have reached the Root of Union.
Travelling by no track, I have come
to the Sorrowless Land: very
easily has the mercy of the great
Lord come upon me.
They have sung of Him as infinite and
unattainable : but I in my medi-
tations have seen Him without
That is indeed the sorrowless land, and
none know the path that leads
Only he who is on that path has surely
transcended all sorrow.
Wonderful is that land of rest, to which
no merit can win ;
It is the wise who has seen it, it is the
wise who has sung of it.
This is the Ultimate Word : but can
any express its marvellous savour ?
SONGS OF KABIR 65
He who has savoured it once, he
knows what joy it can give.
Kabir says : "Knowing it, the ignorant
man becomes wise, and the wise
man becomes speechless and silent.
The worshipper is utterly inebriated.
His wisdom and his detachment are
made perfect ;
He drinks from the cup of the in-
breathings and the outbreathings
There the whole sky is filled with
sound, and there that music is
made without fingers and without
There the game of pleasure and pain
does not cease.
Kabir says : "If you merge your life
in the Ocean of Life, you will find
your fife in the Supreme Land of
What a frenzy of ecstasy there is in
66 SONGS OF KABIR
every hour ! and the worshipper is
pressing out and drinking the
essence of the hours : he hves in
the hfe of Brahma.
I speak truth, for I have accepted truth
in hfe; I am now attached to
truth, I have swept all tinsel away.
Kabir says: "Thus is the worshipper
set free from fear; thus have all
errors of Ufe and of death left
There the sky is filled with music :
There it rains nectar :
There the harp-strings jingle, and there
the drums beat.
What a secret splendour is there, in
the mansion of the sky !
There no mention is made of the rising
and the setting of the sun ;
In the ocean of manifestation, which is
the light of love, day and night
are felt to be one.
SONGS OF KABIR 67
Joy for ever, no sorrow, no struggle !
There have I seen joy filled to the brim,
perfection of joy ;
No place for error is there.
Kabirsays: "There have I witnessed
the sport of One Bhss !"
I have known in my body the sport of
the universe : I have escaped from
the error of this world.
The inward and the outward are be-
come as one sky, the Infinite and
the finite are united : I am drunken
with the sight of this All !
This Light of Thine fulfils the uni-
verse : the lamp of love that burns
on the salver of knowledge.
Kabir says : "There error cannot enter,
and the conflict of hfe and death
is felt no more."
68 SONGS OF KABIR
II. 77. maddh dkds dp jahan baithe
THE middle region of the sky,
wherein the spirit dwelleth, is
radiant with the music of hght ;
There, where the pure and white music
blossoms, my Lord takes His de-
In the wondrous effulgence of each hair
of His body, the brightness of mill-
ions of suns and of moons is lost.
On that shore there is a city, where the
rain of nectar pours and pours, and
Kabir says: "Come, O Dharmadas !
and see my great Lord's Durbar."
II. 20. paramdtam guru nikat virdjain
OMY heart ! the Supreme Spirit,
the great Master, is near you:
wake, oh wake !
Run to the feet of your Beloved : for
SONGS OF KABIR 69
your Lord stands near to your
You have slept for unnumbered ages ;
this morning will you not wake?
II. 22. man tu pdr utar kanh jaihau
TO what shore would you cross, O
my heart.? there is no traveller
before you, there is no road :
Where is the movement, where is the
rest, on that shore ?
There is no water; no boat, no boat-
man, is there ;
There is not so much as a rope to tow
the boat, nor a man to draw it.
No earth, no sky, no time, no thing, is
there : no shore, no ford !
There, there is neither body nor mind :
and where is the place that shall
still the thirst of the soul.'' You
shall find naught in that emptiness.
Be strong, and enter into your own
70 SONGS OF KABIR
body: for there your foothold is
firm. Consider it well, O my
heart ! go not elsewhere.
Kabir says: "Put all imaginations
away, and stand fast in that which
II. 33. ghar ghar dipak varai
LAMPS burn in every house, O
blind one ! and you cannot see
One day your eyes shall suddenly be
opened, and you shall see : and the
fetters of death will fall from you.
There is nothing to say or to hear,
there is nothing to do : it is he
who is Hving, yet dead, who shall
never die again.
Because he lives in solitude, therefore
the Yogi says that his home is far
SONGS OF KABIR 71
Your Lord is near : yet you are climb-
ing the palm-tree to seek Him.
The Brahman priest goes from house
to house and initiates people into
Alas ! the true fountain of life is beside
you, and you have set up a stone
Kabirsays: "I may never express how
sweet my Lord is. Yoga and the
telling of beads, virtue and vice —
these are naught to Him."
II. 38. Sddho, so satgur mohin bhdwai
O BROTHER, my heart yearns for
that true Guru, who fills the cup
of true love, and drinks of it him-
self, and oflfers it then to me.
He removes the veil from the eyes, and
gives the true Vision of Brahma :
He reveals the worlds in Him, and
72 SONGS OF KABIR
makes me to hear the Unstruck
He shows joy and sorrow to be one :
He fills all utterance with love.
Kabir says: "Verily he has no fear,
who has such a Guru to lead him
to the shelter of safety ! "
II. 40. tinwir sdnjh kd gahird dwai
THE shadows of evening fall thick
and deep, and the darkness of love
envelops the body and the mind.
Open the window to the west, and be
lost in the sky of love ;
Drink the sweet honey that steeps the
petals of the lotus of the heart.
Receive the waves in your body : what
splendour is in the region of the
Hark ! the sounds of conches and bells
SONGS OF KABIR 73
Kabir says: "O brother, behold! the
Lord is in this vessel of my body."
II. 48. jis se rahani apdr jagat men
MORE than all else do I cherish at
heart that love which makes
me to hve a limitless life in this
It is like the lotus, which lives in the
water and blooms in the water:
yet the water cannot touch its
petals, they open beyond its reach.
It is hke a wife, who enters the fire at
the bidding of love. She burns
and lets others grieve, yet never
This ocean of the world is hard to cross :
its waters are very deep. Kabir
says: "Listen to me, O Sadhu !
few there are who have reached its
74 SONGS OF KABIR
II. 45. Hari ne apnd dp chipdyd
MY Lord hides Himself, and my
Lord wonderfully reveals Him-
My Lord has encompassed me with
hardness, and my Lord has cast
down my limitations.
My Lord brings to me words of sorrow
and words of joy, and He Himself
heals their strife.
I will offer my body and mind to my
Lord : I will give up my life, but
never can I forget my Lord !
II. 75. onkdr savai koi sirjai
ALL things are created by the Om ;
The love-form is His body.
He is without form, without quality,
without decay :
Seek thou union with Him !
SONGS OF KABIR 75
But that formless God takes a thousand
forms in the eyes of His creatures:
He is pure and indestructible.
His form is infinite and fathomless,
He dances in rapture, and waves of
form arise from His dance.
The body and the mind cannot contain
themselves, when they are touched
by His great joy.
He is immersed in all consciousness, all
joys, and all sorrows ;
He has no beginning and no end ;
He holds all within His bliss.
II. 81. satgur soi day a Tear dlnhd
IT is the mercy of my true Guru that
has made me to know the un-
I have learned from Him how to walk
without feet, to see without eyes,
to hear without ears, to drink
76 SONGS OF KABIR
without mouth, to fly without
I have brought my love and my medi-
tation into the land where there
is no sun and moon, nor day and
Without eating, I have tasted of the
sweetness of nectar; and without
water, I have quenched my thirst.
Where there is the response of dehght,
there is the fullness of joy. Be-
fore whom can that joy be uttered ?
Kabir says: "The Guru is great be-
yond words, and great is the good
fortune of the disciple."
II. 85. nirgun age sargun ndcai
BEFORE the Unconditioned, the
Conditioned dances :
"Thou and I are one!" this trumpet
SONGS OF KABIR 77
The Guru comes, and bows down before
the disciple :
This is the greatest of wonders.
II. 87. Kablr kab se bhaye vairdgl
GORAKHNATH asks Kabir:
"Tell me, O Kabir, when did
your vocation begin? Where did
your love have its rise.'*"
Kabir answers :
"When He whose forms are manifold
had not begun His play : when
there was no Guru, and no disciple :
when the world was not spread
out : when the Supreme One was
Then I became an ascetic; then, O
Gorakh, my love was drawn to
Brahma did not hold the crown on his
head; the god Vishnu was not
78 SONGS OF KABIR
anointed as king; the power of
Shiva was still unborn ; when 1
was instructed in Yoga.
I became suddenly revealed in Benares,
and Ramananda illumined me ;
I brought with me the thirst for the
Infinite, and I have come for the
meeting with Him.
In simpUcity will I unite with the
Simple One; my love will surge
O Gorakh, march thou with His
II. 95. yd tarivar men eh pakheru
ON this tree is a bird : it dances '^^
in the joy of life.
None knows where it is : and who
knows what the burden of its
music may be.''
Where the branches throw a deep
SONGS OF KABIR 79
shade, there does it have its nest :
and it comes in the evening and
flieslaway in the morning, and says
not a word of that which it means.
None tell me of this bird that sings
It is neither coloured nor colourless : it
has neither form nor outUne :
It sits in the shadow of love.
It dwells within the Unattainable, the
Infinite, and the Eternal; and no
one marks when it comes and goes.
Kabir says : "O brother Sadhu ! deep
is the mystery. Let wise men seek
to know where rests that bird."
II. 100. nis din sdlai ghdw
A SORE pain troubles me day and
night, and I cannot sleep ;
I long for the meeting with my Beloved,
and my father's house gives me
pleasure no more.
80 SONGS OF KABIR
The gates of the sky are opened, the
temple is revealed :
I meet my husband, and leave at His
feet the offering of my body and
II. 103. nacu re mero man matta hoy
DANCE, my heart ! dance to-day
The strains of love fill the days and
the nights with music, and the
world is listening to its melodies :
Mad with joy, hfe and death dance to
the rhythm of this music. The
hills and the sea and the earth
dance. The world of man dances
in laughter and tears.
Why put on the robe of the monk, and
live aloof from the world in lonely
Behold ! my heart dances in the de-
SONGS OF KABIR 81
light of a hundred arts; and the
Creator is well pleased.
II. 105. man mast hud tab kyon bole
WHERE is the need of words,
when love has made drunken
the heart ?
I have wrapped the diamond in my
cloak; why open it again and
again ? j
When its load was hght, the pan of the
balance went up : now it is full,
where is the need for weighing ?
The swan has taken its flight to the
lake beyond the mountains ; why
should it search for the pools and
ditches any more ?
Your Lord dwells within you : why
need your outward eyes be opened .''
Kabir says : "Listen, my brother ! my
Lord, who ravishes my eyes, has
united Himself with me."
82 SONGS OF KABIR
II. 110. mohi tohi Idgl kaise chute
HOW could the love between Thee
and me sever ?
As the leaf of the lotus abides on the
water : so Thou art my Lord, and
I am Thy servant.
As the night-bird Chakor gazes all
night at the moon : so Thou art
my Lord and I am Thy servant.
From the beginning until the ending
of time, there is love between
Thee and me ; and how shall such
love be extinguished ?
Kabirsays : " As the river enters into the
ocean, so my heart touches Thee."
II. 113. Vdlam dwo hamdre geh re
MY body and my mind are grieved
for the want of Thee ;
O my Beloved ! come to my house.
SONGS OF KABIR 83
When people say I am Thy bride, I am
ashamed ; for I have not touched
Thy heart with my heart.
Then what is this love of mine ? I have
no taste for food, I have no sleep ;
my heart is ever restless within
doors and without.
As water is to the thirsty, so is the
lover to the bride. Who is there
that will carry my news to my
Kabir is restless : he is dying for sight
II. 126. jag piydrl ah Ted sowai
O FRIEND, awake, and sleep no
The night is over and gone, would you
lose your day also ?
Others, who have wakened, have re-
ceived jewels ;
84 SONGS OF KABIR
O foolish woman ! you have lost all
whilst you slept.
Your lover is wise, and you are foohsh,
O woman !
You never prepared the bed of your
O mad one ! you passed your time in
Your youth was passed in vain, for you
did not know your Lord ;
Wake, wake ! See ! your bed is empty :
He left you in the night.
Kabir says: "Only she wakes, whose
heart is pierced with the arrow
of His music."
I. 36. sur parkas, tank rain kahan
WHEEE is the night, when the
sun is shining? If it is night,
then the sun withdraws its light.
Where knowledge is, can ignorance en-
SONGS OF KABIR 85
dure ? If there be ignorance, then
knowledge must die:
If there be lust, how can love be there ?
Where there is love, there is no lust.
Lay hold on your sword, and join in
the fight ! Fight, O my brother,
as long as life lasts.
Strike off your enemy's head, and
there make an end of him quickly :
then come, and bow your head at
your King's Durbar.
He who is brave, never forsakes the
battle : he who flies from it is no
In the field of this body a great war
goes forward, against passion, an-
ger, pride, and greed :
It is in the kingdom of truth, content-
ment and purity, that this battle
is raging; and the sword that
rings forth most loudly is the
sword of His Name.
86 SONGS OF KABIR
Kabir says: "When a brave knight
takes the field, a host of cowards
is put to flight.
It is a hard fight and a weary one, this
fight of the truth-seeker : for the
vow of the truth-seeker is more
hard than that of the warrior,
or of the widowed wife who would
follow her husband.
For the warrior fights for a few hours,
and the widow's struggle with
death is soon ended :
But the truth-seeker's battle goes on
day and night, as long as life lasts
it never ceases."
I. 50. bhram ke tdld lagd mahal ye
THE lock of error shuts the gate,
open it with the key of love :
Thus, by opening the door, thou shalt
wake the Beloved.
SONGS OF KABIR 87
Kabir says : " O brother ! do not pass
by such good fortune as this."
I. 59. Sddho, yah tan thdth tanvurekd
O FRIEND ! this body is His lyre ;
He tightens its strings, and draws
from it the melody of Brahma.
If the strings snap and the keys
slacken, then to dust must this in-
strument of dust return :
Kabir says: "None but Brahma can
evoke its melodies."
I. 65. avadhu bhule ko ghar Idwe
E is dear to me indeed who can
call back the wanderer to his
home. In the home is the true
union, in the home is enjoyment of
life : why should I forsake my
home and wander in the forest?
88 SONGS OF KABIR
If Brahma helps me to reaUze
truth, verily I will find both bond-
age and deliverance in home.
He is dear to me indeed who has power
to dive deep into Brahma ; whose
mind loses itself with ease in His
He is dear to me who knows Brahma,
and can dwell on His supreme
truth in meditation ; and who can
play the melody of the Infinite by
uniting love and renunciation in life.
Kabir says : "The home is the abiding
place ; in the home is reality ; the
home helps to attain Him Who is
real. So stay where you are, and all
things shall come to you in time."
I. 76. santo sahaj samddh bhall
OSADHU ! the simple union is the
Since the day when I met with my
SONGS OF KABIR 89
Lord, there has been no end to
the sport of our love.
I shut not my eyes, I close not my ears,
I do not mortify my body ;
I see with eyes open and smile, and
behold His beauty everywhere :
I utter His Name, and whatever I see,
it reminds me of Him ; whatever
I do, it becomes His worship.
The rising and the setting are one to
me; all contradictions are solved.
Wherever I go, I move round Him,
All I achieve is His service :
When I he down, I he prostrate at His
He is the only adorable one to me: I
have none other.
My tongue has left ofiE impure words,
it sings His glory day and night :
Whether I rise or sit down, I can never
forget Him; for the rhythm of
His music beats in my ears.
90 SONGS OF KABIR
Kabir says: "My heart is frenzied,
and I disclose in my soul what is
hidden. I am immersed in that
one great bliss which transcends all
pleasure and pain."
I. 79. tlrath men to sab pdnl hat
THERE is nothing but water at the
holy bathing places ; and I know
that they are useless, for I have
bathed in them.
The images are all lifeless, they cannot
speak; I know, for I have cried
aloud to them.
The Purana and the Koran are mere
words; lifting up the curtain, I
Kabir gives utterance to the words of
experience ; and he knows very
well that all other things are un-
SONGS OF KABIR 91
I. 82. 'pdnl vie mm piydsl
I LAUGH when I hear that the fish
in the water is thirsty:
You do not see that the Real is in your
home, and you wander from forest
to forest hstlessly !
Here is the truth ! Go where you will,
to Benares or to Mathura ; if you
do not find your soul, the world is
unreal to you.
I. 93. gagan math gaib nisdn gade
THE Hidden Banner is planted in
the temple of the sky; there the
blue canopy decked with the moon
and set with bright jewels is spread.
There the Ught of the sun and the
moon is shining : still your mind
to silence before that splendour.
92 SONGS OF KABIR
Kabir says : " He who has drunk of this
nectar, wanders like one who is
I. 97. sddho, ko hai Jcanh se dyo
WHO are you, and whence do you
Where dwells that Supreme Spirit, and
how does He have His sport with
all created things ?
The fire is in the wood; but who
awakens it suddenly? Then it
turns to ashes, and where goes the
force of the fire ?
The true guru teaches that He has
neither hmit nor infinitude.
Kabir says: "Brahma suits His lan-
guage to the understanding of His
SONGS OF KABIR 93
I. 98. Sddho, sahajai kdyd sodho
OSADHU ! purify your body in
the simple way.
As the seed is within the banyan tree,
and within the seed are the flowers,
the fruits, and the shade :
So the germ is within the body, and
within that germ is the body again.
The fire, the air, the water, the earth,
and the aether ; you cannot have
these outside of Him.
O Kazi, O Pundit, consider it well:
what is there that is not in the
The water-filled pitcher is placed upon
water, it has water within and
It should not be given a name, lest it
call forth the error of duaUsm.
Kabir says : "Listen to the Word, the
Truth, which is your essence. He
94 SONGS OF KABIR
speaks the Word to Himself ; and
He Himself is the Creator,"
I. 102. tarvar ek mul vin thddd
THERE is a strange tree, which
stands without roots and bears
fruits without blossoming ;
It has no branches and no leaves, it is
lotus all over.
Two birds sing there ; one is the Guru,
and the other the disciple :
The disciple chooses the manifold fruits
of life and tastes them, and the
Guru beholds him in joy.
What Kabir says is hard to understand :
" The bird is beyond seeking, yet it
is most clearly visible. The Form-
less is in the midst of all forms. I
sing the glory of forms."
SONGS OF KABIR 95
I. 107. calat mansd acal kinhi
I HAVE stilled my restless mind, and
my heart is radiant : for in That-
ness I have seen beyond That-ness,
in company I have seen the Com-
Living in bondage, I have set myself
free : I have broken away from
the clutch of all narrowness.
Kabir says: "I have attained the
unattainable, and my heart is
coloured with the colour of love."
I. 105. Qo dlsai, so to Tiai ndhin
THAT which you see is not : and for
that which is, you have no words.
Unless you see, you believe not : what
is told you you cannot accept.
He who is discerning knows by the word ;
and the ignorant stands gaping.
96 SONGS OF.KABIR
Some contemplate the Formless, and
others meditate on form : but the
wise man knows that Brahma is
That beauty of His is not seen of the
eye : that metre of His is not heard
of the ear.
Kabir says : "He who has found both
love and renunciation never de-
scends to death,"
I. 126. murall bajat akhatid saddye
THE flute of the Infinite is played
without ceasing, and its sound is
When love renounces all limits, it
How widely the fragrance spreads ! It
has no end, nothing stands in its
The form of this melody is bright Uke
SONGS OF KABIR 97
a million suns : incomparably
sounds the vina, the vina of the
notes of truth.
I. 129. sakhiyo ham hun bhai vala-
DEAR friend, I am eager to meet
my Beloved ! My youth has
flowered, and the pain of separa-
tion from Him troubles my breast.
I am wandering yet in the alleys of
knowledge without purpose, but I
have received His news in these
alleys of knowledge.
I have a letter from my Beloved : in
this letter is an unutterable mes-
sage, and now my fear of death is
Kabir says: "O my loving friend ! I
have got for my gift the Deathless
98 SONGS OF KABIR
I. 130. sdln vin dard kareje hoy
WHEN I am parted from my
Beloved, my heart is full of
misery : I have no comfort in the
day, I have no sleep in the night.
To whom shall I tell my sorrow ?
The night is dark ; the hours sUp by.
Because my Lord is absent, I start
up and tremble with fear.
Kabir says : "Listen, my friend ! there
is no other satisfaction, save in the
encounter with the Beloved."
I. 122. kaum murall sahd sun dnand
WHAT is that flute whose music
thrills me with joy ?
The flame burns without a lamp ;
The lotus blossoms without a root ;
SONGS OF KABIR 99
Flowers bloom in clusters ;
The moon-bird is devoted to the moon ;
With all its heart the rain-bird longs
for the shower of rain ;
But upon whose love does the Lover
concentrate His entire life ?
I. 112. suntd nahl dhun hi khabar
HAVE you not heard the tune
which the Unstruck Music is
playing? In the midst of the
chamber the harp of joy is gently
and sweetly played ; and where is
the need of going without to hear
If you have not drunk of the nectar of
that One Love, what boots it
though you should purge yourself
of all stains ?
The Kazi is searching the words of the
Koran, and instructing others :
100 SONGS OF KABIR
but if his heart be not steeped in
that love, what does it avail,
though he be a teacher of men ?
The Yogi dyes his garments with red :
but if he knows naught of that
colour of love, what does it avail
though his garments be tinted ?
Kabir says : "Whether I be in the
temple or the balcony, in the camp
or in the flower garden, I tell you
truly that every moment my Lord
is taking His delight in me."
I. 73. bhakti kd mdrag jhind re
SUBTLE is the path of love !
Therein there is no asking and
There one loses one's self at His feet.
There one is immersed in the joy of
the seeking : plunged in the deeps
of love as the fish in the water.
SONGS OF KABIR 101
The lover is never slow in oflfering his
head for his Lord's service.
Kabir declares the secret of this love.
I. 68. bhdi hoi satguru sant kahdwai
HE is the real Sadhu, who can re-
veal the form of the Formless to
the vision of these eyes :
Who teaches the simple way of attain-
ing Him, that is other than rites
or ceremonies :
Who does not make you close the doors,
and hold the breath, and renounce
the world :
Who makes you perceive the Supreme
Spirit wherever the mind attaches
Who teaches you to be still in the midst
of all your activities.
Ever immersed in bhss, having no fear
in his mind, he keeps the spirit of
102 SONGS OF KABIR
union in the midst of all enjoy-
The infinite dwelling of the Infinite
Being is everywhere : in earth,
water, sky, and air :
Firm as the thunderbolt, the seat of
the seeker is established above the
He who is within is without: I see
Him and none else.
I. 66. sddho sabd sddhnd kljai
RECEIVE that Word from which
the Universe springeth !
That Word is the Guru ; I have heard
it, and become the disciple.
How many are there who know the
meaning of that Word ?
O Sadhu ! practise that Word !
The Vedas and the Puranas proclaim it,
The world is established in it.
SONGS OF KABIR 103
The Rishis and devotees speak of it :
But none knows the mystery of the
The householder leaves his house when
he hears it.
The ascetic comes back to love when
he hears it.
The Six Philosophies expound it.
The Spirit of Renunciation points to
From that Word the world-form has
That Word reveals all.
Kabir says: "But who knows whence
the Word cometh ? "
I. 63. pile pydld ho matwdld
EMPTY the Cup ! O be drunken !
Drink the divine nectar of His
Kabir says : "Listen to me, dear Sadhu !
104 SONGS OF KABIR
From the sole of the foot to the crown
of the head this mind is filled with
I. 52. khasm na cinhai bdwrl
OMAN, if thou dost not know thine
own Lord, whereof art thou so
Put thy cleverness away : mere words
shall never unite thee to Him.
Do not deceive thyself with the witness
of the Scriptures :
Love is something other than this, and
he who has sought it truly has
I. 56. sukh sindh hi sair kd
HE savour of wandering in the
ocean of deathless life has rid
me of all my asking:
SONGS OF KABIR 105
As the tree is in the seed, so all diseases
are in this asking.
I. 48. sulch sugar men dyke
~^\7 HEN at last you are come to the
T T ocean of happiness, do not go
Wake, foohsh man ! for Death stalks
you. Here is pure water before
you ; drink it at every breath.
Do not follow the mirage on foot, but
thirst for the nectar ;
Dhruva, Prahlad, and Shukadeva have
drunk of it, and also Raidas has
tasted it :
The saints are drunk with love, their
thirst is for love.
Kabir says: "Listen to me, brother!
The nest of fear is broken.
Not for a moment have you come face
to face with the world :
106 SONGS OF KABIR
You are weaving your bondage of
falsehood, your words are full of
With the load of desires which you hold
on your head, how can you be
Kabir says: "Keep within you truth,
detachment, and love."
I. 35. sail ko Tcaun sikhdwtd hai
WHO has ever taught the widowed
wife to burn herself on the pyre
of her dead husband ?
And who has ever taught love to find
bhss in renunciation ?
I. 39. are man dhiraj kdhe na dharai
HY so impatient, my heart ?
He who watches over birds,
beasts, and insects.
SONGS OF KABIR 107
He who cared for you whilst you were
yet in your mother's womb.
Shall He not care for you now that you
are come forth ?
Oh my heart, how could you turn from
the smile of your Lord and wander
so far from Him ?
You have left your Beloved and are
thinking of others : and this is
why all your work is in vain.
I. 117. sard se lagan kathin hai bhdi
HOW hard it is to meet my Lord !
The rain-bird wails in thirst for
the rain : almost she dies of her
longing, yet she would have none
other water than the rain.
Drawn by the love of music, the deer
moves forward : she dies as she
listens to the music, yet she shrinks
not in fear.
108 SONGS OF KABIR
The widowed wife sits by the body of
her dead husband : she is not
afraid of the fire.
Put away all fear for this poor body.
I. 22. jab main bhuld re bhdi
O BROTHER! when I was for-
getful, my true Guru showed me
Then I left oflF all rites and ceremonies,
I bathed no more in the holy
Then I learned that it was I alone who
was mad, and the whole world
beside me was sane ; and I had
disturbed these wise people.
From that time forth I knew no more
how to roll in the dust in obei-
I do not ring the temple bell :
I do not set the idol on its throne :
SONGS OF KABIR 109
I do not worship the image with flowers.
It is not the austerities that mortify the
flesh which are pleasing to the Lord,
When you leave off your clothes and
kill your senses, you do not please
the Lord :
The man who is kind and who practises
righteousness, who remains passive
amidst the affairs of the world,
who considers all creatures on
earth as his own self.
He attains the Immortal Being, the
true God is ever with him.
Kabir says: "He attains the true
Name whose words are pure, and
who is free from pride and con-
I. 20. man na rahgdye
THE Yogi dyes his garments, in-
stead of dyeing his mind in the
colours of love :
110 SONGS OF KABIR
He sits within the temple of the Lord,
leaving Brahma to worship a stone.
He pierces holes in his ears, he has a
great beard and matted locks, he
looks hke a goat :
He goes forth into the wilderness, kill-
ing all his desires, and turns him-
self into an eunuch :
He shaves his head and dyes his gar-
ments ; he reads the Gita and be-
comes a mighty talker.
Kabir says: "You are going to the
doors of death, bound hand and
I. 9. nd jane sdhab kaisd hai
I DO not know what manner of God
The Mullah cries aloud to Him : and
why? Is your Lord deaf.'' The
subtle anklets that ring on the
SONGS OF KABIR 111
feet of an insect when it moves
are heard of Him.
Tell your beads, paint your forehead
with the mark of your God, and
wear matted locks long and showy :
but a deadly weapon is in your
heart, and how shall you have
III. 102. ham se rahd na jay
I HEAR the melody of His flute, and
I cannot contain myself !
The flower blooms, though it is not
spring; and already the bee has
received its invitation.
The sky roars and the Ughtning flashes,
the waves arise in my heart.
The rain falls ; and my heart longs for
Where the rhythm of the world rises
and falls, thither my heart has
112 SONGS OF KABIR
There the hidden banners are fluttering
in the air.
Kabir says: "My heart is dying,
though it Hves."
III. 2. jo khoddy masjid vastu hai
IF God be within the mosque, then
to whom does this world belong?
If Ham be within the image which you
find upon your pilgrimage, then
who is there to know w;hat happens
Hari is in the East: Allah is in the
West. Look within your heart,
for there you will find both Karim
and Ram ;
All the men and women of the world
are His living forms.
Kabir is the child of Allah and of Ram :
He is my Guru, He is my Pir.
SONGS OF KABIR 113
III. 9. sil santosh sadd samadrishti
HE who is meek and contented, he
who has an equal vision, whose
mind is filled with the fullness of
acceptance and of rest ;
He who has seen Him and touched
Him, he is freed from all fear and
To him the perpetual thought of God
is like sandal paste smeared on
the body, to him nothing else is
His work and his rest are filled with
music : he sheds abroad the radi-
ance of love.
Kabir says: "Touch His feet, who is
one and indivisible, immutable
and peaceful ; who fills all vessels
to the brim with joy, and whose
form is love."
114 SONGS OP KABIR
III. 13. sadh sangat pitam
GO thou to the company of the
good, where the Beloved One
has His dwelling-place :
Take all thy thoughts and love and
instruction from thence.
Let that assembly be burnt to ashes
where His Name is not spoken !
Tell me, how couldst thou hold a
wedding-feast, if the bridegroom
himself were not there ?
Waver no more, think only of the Be-
Set not thy heart on the worship of
other gods, there is no worth in
the worship of other masters.
Kabir deliberates and says : "Thus
thou shalt never find the Be-
SONGS OF KABIR 115
III. 26. tor hlrd hirdilwd kin cad men
THE jewel is lost in the mud, and
all are seeking for it ;
Some look for it in the east, and some
in the west ; some in the water
and some amongst stones.
But the servant Kabir has appraised it
at its true value, and has wrapped
it with care in the end of the
mantle of his heart.
III. 26. dyau din gaune kai ho
THE palanquin came to take me
away to my husband's home,
and it sent through my heart a
thrill of joy ;
But the bearers have brought me into
the lonely forest, where I have no
one of my own.
116 SONGS OF KABIR
O bearers, I entreat you by your feet,
wait but a moment longer : let me
go back to my kinsmen and friends,
and take my leave of them.
The servant Kabir sings: "O Sadhu !
finish your buying and selUng,
have done with your good and
your bad : for there are no mar-
kets and no shops in the land to
which you go."
III. 30. are dil, prem nagar kd ant na
OMY heart ! you have not known
all the secrets of this city of
love : in ignorance you came, and
in ignorance you return.
O my friend, what have you done with
this life ? You have taken on your
head the burden heavy with stones,
and who is to lighten it for you ?
SONGS OF KABIR 117
Your Friend stands on the other shore,
but you never think in your mind
how you may meet with Him :
The boat is broken, and yet you sit
ever upon the bank ; and thus you
are beaten to no purpose by the
The servant Kabir asks you to con-
sider; who is there that shall be-
friend you at the last ?
You are alone, you have no companion :
you will suffer the consequences
of your own deeds.
III. 55. ved kahe sargun he age
THE Vedas say that the Uncondi-
tioned stands beyond the world
O woman, what does it avail thee to
dispute whether He is beyond all
or in all ^
118 SONGS OF KABIR
See thou everything as thine own
dwelUng place : the mist of pleas-
ure and pain can never spread there.
There Brahma is revealed day and
night : there light is His garment,
light is His seat, Ught rests on thy
Kabir says : "The Master, who is true.
He is all light."
III. 48. tu sural nain nihdr
OPEN your eyes of love, and see
Him who pervades this world !
consider it well, and know that
this is your own country.
When you meet the true Guru, He will
awaken your heart ;
He will tell you the secret of love and
detachment, and then you will
know indeed that He transcends
SONGS OF KABIR 119
This world is the City of Truth, its
maze of paths enchants the heart :
We can reach the goal without crossing
the road, such is the sport unend-
Where the ring of manifold joys ever
dances about Him, there is the
sport of Eternal Bliss.
When we know this, then all our re-
ceiving and renouncing is over;
Thenceforth the heat of having shall
never scorch us more.
He is the Ultimate Rest unbounded :
He has spread His form of love through-
out all the world.
From that Ray which is Truth, streams
of new forms are perpetually spring-
ing : and He pervades those forms.
All the gardens and groves and bowers
are abounding with blossom ; and
the air breaks forth into ripples
120 SONGS OF KABIR
There the swan plays a wonderful game,
There the Unstruek Music eddies
around the Infinite One;
There in the midst the Throne of the
Unheld is shining, whereon the
great Being sits —
Millions of suns are shamed by the
radiance of a single hair of His
On the harp of the road what true
melodies are being sounded ! and
its notes pierce the heart :
There the Eternal Fountain is playing
its endless life-streams of birth
They call Him Emptiness who is the
Truth of Truths, in Whom all
truths are stored !
There within Him creation goes for-
ward, which is beyond all philoso-
phy ; for philosophy cannot attain
to Him :
SONGS OF KABIR 121
There is an endless world, O my
Brother ! and there is the Name-
less Being, of whom naught can
Only he knows it who has reached that
region: it is other than all that
is heard and said.
No form, no body, no length, no
breadth is seen there : how can I
tell you that which it is .''
He comes to the Path of the Infinite
on whom the grace of the Lord
descends : he is freed from births
and deaths who attains to Him.
Kabir says : "It cannot be told by the
words of the mouth, it cannot be
written on paper :
It is hke a dumb person who tastes a
sweet thing — how shall it be ex-
plained ? "
122 SONGS OF KABIR
III. 60. cal hamsd wd des jahan
OMY heart! let us go to that
country where dwells the Be-
loved, the ravisher of my heart !
There Love is filling her pitcher from
the well, yet she has no rope where-
with to draw water ;
There the clouds do not cover the sky,
yet the rain falls down in gentle
O bodiless one ! do not sit on your
doorstep; go forth and bathe
yourseK in that rain !
There it is ever moonUght and never
dark; and who speaks of one sun
only ? that land is illuminate with
the rays of a milUon suns.
SONGS OF KABIR 123
III. 63. kahain Kahlr, suno ho sddho
KABIR says: "O Sadhu ! hear
my deathless words. If you
want your own good, examine and
consider them well.
You have estranged yourself from the
Creator, of whom you have sprung:
you have lost your reason, you
have bought death.
All doctrines and all teachings are
sprung from Him, from Him they
grow: know this for certain, and
have no fear.
Hear from me the tidings of this great
Whose name do you sing, and on whom
do you meditate? O, come forth
from this entanglement !
He dwells at the heart of all things, so
why take refuge in empty desola-
124 SONGS OF KABIR
If you place the Guru at a distance
from you, then it is but the dis-
tance that you honour :
If indeed the Master be far away, then
who is it else that is creating this
When you think that He is not here,
then you wander further and
further away, and seek Him in
vain with tears.
Where He is far off, there He is un-
attainable : where He is near. He
is very bliss.
Kabir says : "Lest His servant should
suffer pain He pervades him
through and through."
Know yourself then, O Kabir ; for He
is in you from head to foot.
Sing with gladness, and keep your seat
unmoved within your heart.
SONGS OF KABIR 125
III. 66. nd main dharml nahin
I AM neither pious nor ungodly,
I live neither by law nor by sense,
I am neither a speaker nor hearer,
I am neither a servant nor master,
I am neither bond nor free,
I am neither detached nor attached.
I am far from none : I am near to none.
I shall go neither to hell nor to heaven.
I do all works; yet I am apart from
Few comprehend my meaning : he who
can comprehend it, he sits un-
Kabir seeks neither to estabhsh nor to
126 SONGS OF KABIR
III. 69. satta nam hai sab ten nydrd
THE true Name is like none other
The distinction of the Conditioned
from the Unconditioned is but a
The Unconditioned is the seed, the
Conditioned is the flower and the
Knowledge is the branch, and the
Name is the root.
Look, and see where the root is : hap-
piness shall be yours when you
come to the root.
The root will lead you to the branch,
the leaf, the flower, and the fruit :
It is the encounter with the Lord, it is
the attainment of bliss, it is the
reconciUation of the Conditioned
and the Unconditioned.
SONGS OF KABIR 127
III. 74. pratham ek jo dpai dp
IN the beginning was He alone, suffi-
cient unto Himself: the formless,
colourless, and unconditioned
Then was there neither beginning,
middle, nor end ;
Then were no eyes, no darkness, no
Then were no ground, air, nor sky ; no
fire, water, nor earth; no rivers
hke the Ganges and the Jumna, no
seas, oceans, and waves.
Then was neither vice nor virtue ; scrip-
tures there were not, as the Vedas
and Puranas, nor as the Koran.
Kabir ponders in his mind and says,
"Then was there no activity : the
Supreme Being remained merged
in the unknown depths of His own
128 SONGS OF KABIR
The Guru neither eats nor drinks,
neither lives nor dies :
Neither has He form, line, colour, nor
He who has neither caste nor clan nor
anything else — how may I de-
scribe His glory ?
He has neither form nor formlessness.
He has no name.
He has neither colour nor colourless-
He has no dwelling-place.
III. 76. kahain Kahir vicar Ice
RABIR ponders and says : " He
who has neither caste nor coun-
try, who is formless and without
quality, fills all space."
The Creator brought into being the
Game of Joy : and from the word
Om the Creation sprang.
SONGS OF KABIR 129
The earth is His joy; His joy is the
His joy is the flashing of the sun and
the moon ;
His joy is the beginning, the middle,
and the end ;
His joy is eyes, darkness, and hght.
Oceans and waves are His joy : His
joy the Sarasvati, the Jumna, and
The Guru is One : and Hfe and death,
union and separation, are all His
plays of joy !
His play the land and water, the whole
His play the earth and the sky !
In play is the Creation spread out, in
play it is established. The whole
world, says Kabir, rests in His
play, yet still the Player remains
130 SONGS OF KABIR
III. 84. jhi jhl jantar bdjai
THE harp gives forth murmurous
music; and the dance goes on
without hands and feet.
It is played without fingers, it is heard
without ears : for He is the ear,
and He is the Hstener.
The gate is locked, but within there is
fragrance : and there the meeting
is seen of none.
The wise shall understand it.
III. 89. mor phakirwd mdngi jay
THE Beggar goes a-begging, but
I could not even catch sight of
And what shall I beg of the Beggar.?
He gives without my asking.
Kabir says : "I am His own : now let
that befall which may befall !"
SONGS OF KABIR 131
III. 90. naihar se jiyard phdt re
MY heart cries aloud for the house
of my lover ; the open road and
the shelter of a roof are all one to
her who has lost the city of her
My heart finds no joy in anything : my
mind and my body are distraught.
His palace has a million gates, but there
is a vast ocean between it and me :
How shall I cross it, O friend ? for end-
less is the outstretching of the path.
How wondrously this lyre is wrought !
When its strings are rightly strung,
it maddens the heart : but when
the keys are broken and the strings
are loosened, none regard it more.
I tell my parents with laughter that I
must go to my Lord in the
132 SONGS OF KA.BIR
They are angry, for they do not want
me to go, and they say: "She
thinks she has gained such do-
minion over her husband that she
can have whatsoever she wishes ;
and therefore she is impatient to go
Dear friend, Kft my veil Hghtly now;
for this is the night of love.
Kabirsays: "Listen to me! My heart
is eager to meet my lover : I lie
sleepless upon my bed. Remem-
ber me early in the morning !"
III. 96. jiw mahal men Siw pahunwd
SERVE your God, who has come
into this temple of life !
Do not act the part of a madman, for
the night is thickening fast.
He has awaited me for countless ages.
SONGS OF KABIR 133
for love of me He has lost His
Yet I did not know the bliss that was
so near to me, for my love was not
But now, my Lover has made known
to me the meaning of the note that
struck my ear :
Now, my good fortune is come.
Kabir says: "Behold! how great is
my good fortune ! I have received
the unending caress of my Be-
I. 71. gagan ghatd ghahar dni sddho
CLOUDS thicken in the sky! O,
listen to the deep voice of their
The rain comes from the east with its
Take care of the fences and boundaries
134 SONGS OF KABIR
of your fields, lest the rains over-
flow them ;
Prepare the soil of deliverance, and let
the creepers of love and renuncia-
tion be soaked in this shower.
It is the prudent farmer who will bring
his harvest home ; he shall fill
both his vessels, and feed both
the wise men and the saints-
III. 118. dj din he main jdun balihdrl
THIS day is dear to me above all
other days, for to-day the Be-
loved Lord is a guest in my house ;
My chamber and my courtyard are
beautiful with His presence.
My longings sing His Name, and they
are become lost in His great
I wash His feet, and I look upon His
Face ; and I lay before Him as an
SONGS OF KABIR 135
oflfering my body, my mind, and
all that I have.
What a day of gladness is that day in
which my Beloved, who is my
treasure, comes to my house !
All evils fly from my heart when I see
"My love has touched Him ; my heart
is longing for the Name which is
Thus sings Kabir, the servant of all
I. 100. koi suntd hai jndni rag gagan
IS there any wise man who will listen
to that solemn music which arises
in the sky ?
For He, the Source of all music, makes
all vessels full fraught, and rests in
136 SONGS OF KABIR
He who is in the body is ever athirst,
for he pursues that which is in part :
But ever there wells forth deeper and
deeper the sound "He is this —
this is He"; fusing love and re-
nunciation into one.
Kabir says: "O brother! that is the
I. 108. main kdse bujhaun
TO whom shall I go to learn about
my Beloved ?
Kabir says : "As you never may find
the forest if you ignore the tree, so
He may never be found in abstrac-
III. 12. samshirit bhdshd padhi llnhd
I HAVE learned the Sanskrit lan-
guage, so let all men call me wise :
But where is the use of this, when I
SONGS OF KABIR 137
am floating adrift, and parched
with thirst, and burning with the
heat of desire ?
To no purpose do you bear on your
head this load of pride and vanity.
Kabir says : "Lay it down in the dust,
and go forth to meet the Beloved.
Address Him as your Lord."
III. 110. carkhd calai sural virahin kd
THE woman who is parted from her
lover spins at the spinning wheel.
The city of the body arises in its
beauty; and within it the palace
of the mind has been built.
The wheel of love revolves in the sky,
and the seat is made of the jewels
of knowledge :
What subtle threads the woman weaves,
and makes them fine with love
and reverence !
138 SONGS OF KABIR
Kabir says: "I am weaving the gar-
land of day and night. When
my Lover comes and touches me
with His feet, I shall oflfer Him my
III. 111. kotin bhdnu candra tdrdgan
BENEATH the great umbrella of
my King milhons of suns and
moons and stars are shining !
He is the Mind within my mind : He
is the Eye within mine eye.
Ah, could my mind and eyes be one !
Could my love but reach to my
Lover ! Could but the fiery heat
of my heart be cooled !
Kabir says: "When you unite love
with the Lover, then you have
SONGS OF KABIR 139
I. 92. avadhu begam des hamdrd
OSADHU ! my land is a sorrow-
I cry aloud to all, to the king and
the beggar, the emperor and the
Whosoever seeks for shelter in the
Highest, let all come and settle
in my land !
Let the weary come and lay his burdens
So live here, my brother, that you may
cross with ease to that other shore.
It is a land without earth or sky, with-
out moon or stars ;
For only the radiance of Truth shines
in my Lord's Durbar.
Kabir says: "O beloved brother!
naught is essential save Truth."
140 SONGS OF KABIR
I. 109. sdni he sangan sdsur dl
I CAME with my Lord to my Lord's
home : but I lived not with Him
' and I tasted Him not, and my
youth passed away like a dream.
On my wedding night my women-
friends sang in chorus, and I was
anointed with the unguents of
pleasure and pain :
But when the ceremony was over, I
left my Lord and came away, and
my kinsman tried to console me
upon the road.
Kabir says, "I shall go to my Lord's
house with my love at my side;
then shall I sound the trumpet of
SONGS OF KABIE 141
I. 75. samujh dekh man mit piyarwd
O FRIEND, dear heart of mine,
think well ! if you love indeed,
then why do you sleep ?
If you have found Him, then give
yourself utterly, and take Him to
Why do you loose Him again and
If the deep sleep of rest has come to
your eyes, why waste your time
making the bed and arranging
Kabir says: "I tell you the ways of
love ! Even though the head itself
must be given, why should you
weep over it?"
142 SONGS OF KABIR
II. 90. sdhah ham men sdhab turn men
THE Lord is in me, the Lord is in
you, as life is in every seed. O
servant ! put false pride away, and
seek for Him within you.
A milUon suns are ablaze with Ught,
The sea of blue spreads in the sky.
The fever of life is stilled, and all stains
are washed away; when I sit in
the midst of that world.
Hark to the unstruck bells and drums !
Take your delight in love !
Rains pour down without water, and
the rivers are streams of light.
One Love it is that pervades the whole
world, few there are who know it
They are blind who hope to see it by
the light of reason, that reason
which is the cause of separation —
The House of Reason is very far away !
SONGS OF KABIR 143
How blessed is Kabir, that amidst this
great joy he sings within his own
It is the music of the meeting of soul
with soul ;
It is the music of the forgetting of
It is the music that transcends all com-
ing in and all going forth.
II. 98. ritu phdgun niyardni
THE month of March draws near: ah,
who wiU unite me to my Lover ?
How shall I find words for the beauty
of my Beloved ? For He is merged
in all beauty.
His colour is in all the pictures of the
world, and it bewitches the body
and the mind.
Those who know this, know what is
this unutterable play of the Spring.
144 SONGS OF KABIR
Kabir says : "Listen to me, brother !
there are not many who have
found this out."
II. 111. ndrad pydr so antar ndhi
OH Narad ! I know that my Lover
cannot be far:
When my Lover wakes, I wake ; when
He sleeps, I sleep.
He is destroyed at the root who gives
pain to my Beloved.
Where they sing His praise, there I
When He moves, I walk before Him:
my heart yearns for my Beloved.
The infinite pilgrimage lies at His
feet, a million devotees are seated
Kabir says: "The Lover Himself re-
veals the glory of true love."
SONGS OF KABIR 145
II. 122. hoi prem lei peng jhuldo re
HANG up the swing of love to-day !
Hang the body and the mind
between the arms of the Beloved,
in the ecstasy of love's joy :
Bring the tearful streams of the rainy
clouds to your eyes, and cover
your heart with the shadow of
Bring your face nearer to His ear, and
speak of the deepest longings of
Kabir says: "Listen to me, brother!
bring the vision of the Beloved in
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